The Revolutionary Drawing Room is that rare group, a string quartet that performs late 18th- and 19th-century repertoire with a sound derived from the beauty and flexibility of gut strings. The political upheavals of the time were matched by a breathless pace of change and the forging of new styles, forms and tastes both in the music and in the instruments used. We use original bows, or modern copies, and often employ more than one in a concert depending on the range of repertoire. We also enjoy talking to our audiences, explaining the background of the works we are playing and our choices of equipment and playing styles.
We also work with some of the world's top wind and keyboard players, such as Rachel Brown (flute), Colin Lawson (clarinet), Roger Montgomery (horn) and Geoffrey Govier (fortepiano), and their ground-breaking collections attest to the radical transformation their instruments were undergoing during this period.
The name 'Revolutionary Drawing Room' refers to the revolutionary years in Europe between 1789 and 1848. The 'drawing room' (the name deriving from the earlier 'withdrawing room') was where chamber music was performed in Georgian times, in the houses of musicians and their patrons. The dates are only a guide to give an idea of the period of music we cover but we often perform works written both before and after these dates.
The ensemble, founded in 1990, has performed in Canada, Germany, Holland, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and Ireland as well as across the UK and has recorded for CPO (Donizetti and Boccherini quartets) and the BBC (Mendelssohn Octet). Recent appearances have included concerts in the Gregynog, Maldon and Petworth Festivals and the London BachFest and we are currently performing a complete cycle of Beethoven's Quartets over four years at St. John’s, Smith Square. In July 2017 we played in the Music and Beyond Festival in Ottawa, Canada, with three concerts featuring Beethoven's Op. 18 quartets, and a "Soirée" appearance at the National Gallery of Canada. Recordings include Mozart's Clarinet Quintet with Colin Lawson on the Clarinet Classics label and ‘A Viennese Quartet Party’ on Omnibus Classics, and our new double-CD of flute quartets by Mozart and his contemporaries with Rachel Brown was released in September 2016 on the Uppernote label.